Saturday, July 04, 2009

Verbal snapshot of Rebecca

Rebecca has been reading to Jim and me (and Carly when she'll sit still for it) a lot lately. I listened as she read an Amelia Bedelia book to me, and realized how much progress she has made. She's been able to read since before she started school, but she has come a long way in terms of vocabulary and comprehension. The last time she read AB, she tripped over the name of the Rogers family, as well as a number of other words. This time, she barely stumbles. And her inflection as she reads aloud is wonderful, so I know that she understands what she's reading. I've noticed lately that when she reads aloud, if she doesn't read a sentence with proper inflection, she'll go back and re-read it aloud, so that it makes sense to her. I smile inwardly every time she corrects herself. I remember having to read and reread aloud to teachers to get the inflection correct; it blows me away that she has already figured that out.

This summer she is attending a day camp at the facility where she attended Kindergarten, and where she will go for after-school care beginning in the fall. Their activity schedule includes trips to the library as a regular activity. Rebecca has had a library card for a while now, and is extremely excited about being able to use it on a regular basis. I remember how much I loved going to the library and it’s so gratifying to see my daughter begin a love affair with reading as well. The other day she was telling me about a “log cabin” book at school, about a girl and her sister. As she described the story to me, I realized it sounded a lot like Little House in the Big Woods. I got excited, geeky reader that I am, because I have been looking forward to her reading the Little House books, and getting a chance to re-read them along with her. I had pointed them out to her a year or more ago and at the time she told me they sounded “boring”. This crushed me for a moment; Little House boring? No way! But now that she has discovered them for herself, we are looking forward to reading them. I remember so well going to the library and getting each book in sequence. Then the TV series came out and I was beyond excited, since the books were so new to me. I HAD to watch every week, but none of the rest of the family was interested. Back in the day (1970s) we had two TVs, one in the living room and one in the dining room. The big TV was color, something we didn’t get until I was 10. The little TV was of course black and white. But every week I would sit on a dining room chair and watch my beloved Laura Ingalls.

Rebecca’s school participated in a week of standardized testing this spring. She talked about it throughout that week, describing to Jim and me the kinds of tests they were taking. She was not concerned or anxious about them at all. We tried to encourage this lack of concern by telling her that we were proud that she was doing her best and that we only ask her to try her hardest. I suspect that her teachers did the same, because she found the whole week to be easy, if a bit dull compared to her usual routine. A few weeks ago we received information about her scores, and they were off the charts. Her vocabulary got the highest grade-level equivalent, which doesn’t surprise anyone who knew her as a two year old, describing to her toddler room teacher about her dog having Hip Dysplasia. Her score for listening was the "lowest" equivalent, but was still listed as being consistent with a second grader. I don't put all my stock in these tests; to me her scores say that she's a good test taker, like her mommy. On the other hand, she has learned a lot this year and is capable of learning much more. I do have concern about her being bored next year when she enters first grade at the public school. Our school district has some information online about their programs for gifted students, and Jim picked up some info as well. When school starts we can talk to her teacher about seeing if she should be evaluated.

Rebecca is maturing in other says, as well. Finally, as far as she was concerned, she lost her first two baby teeth in May. Many of her classmates had lost teeth during the school year, which disappointed her, especially since she was one of the older kids in her class. Her bottom front two teeth had been somewhat wiggly for a long time, and finally one got really loose. She came home from school on a Friday with the tooth hanging by a thread and a message from her teacher that she expected Rebecca to return on Monday without the tooth. She couldn’t bring herself to pull the tooth out. I showed her how she could use a tissue to get more “traction” and ended up pulling it out. Her excitement was enormous! She is disappointed that she hasn’t lost the top two teeth yet, since she knows so many kids who have. But at least she had her first tooth to present to the TF, unlike her mom. I started losing teeth at about the same age as Rebecca, except that when I was six, I was in first grade. Since my birthday is in September, I was always one of the youngest in my class. I was truly desperate to lose a tooth. At our elementary school was a kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Doll, who was famous for pulling loose teeth for kids. Gross, right? But the kids all wanted her to perform this public service. One afternoon when our class was visiting the library, Mrs. Doll happened to stop in. I immediately showed her my wiggly tooth and begged her to pull it out. She obliged, and I immediately started bleeding. My teacher took me next door to the teacher’s rest room to get a paper towel; I didn’t even care that I was bleeding, since I had just lost my first tooth, AND got to enter the mystical world of a staff lavatory. My teacher put my tooth in a small envelope so I could take it home. As soon as I got off the school bus, I took the tooth out of the envelope to show my mom. Unfortunately, I did this at the end of our gravel driveway. The tooth disappeared into the gravel and I searched frantically for it. Panicked, I ran up to the house to get my mom’s help. Of course, I had no idea exactly where on the driveway I’d dropped the tooth, and my mom told me I should have left something, like my lunchbox, by the spot I’d been standing in, so we’d know where to look. Six year old kids unfortunately don’t usually possess that kind of thinking, so of course I hadn’t done that. I was distraught that I would have nothing to leave for the Tooth Fairy, but my mom told me to write her a note. I did so, and was rewarded the next morning with some change – a dime, maybe? And that was an exciting amount of money at that time. That summer my parents had the driveway paved with asphalt, so my baby tooth is entombed forever in the driveway.

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